Is it really green? Reliable ratings for green cleaning products available in Fort Worth / Dallas
By Teresa McUsic
Holiday cleaning has official begun as North Texans prepare for guests and parties during the season. This year, why not make your spruce up green? Finding green cleaning products for your home still takes some work, but advocates and retailers are starting to make it easier. Just be sure you trust your source. Having a label that marks a product “green” or “natural” or even “organic” does not necessary mean it is.
Fortunately there are several trusted sources that have conducted extensive testing on home and personal care products readily available in most North Texas stores. Here are three:
• Whole Foods Market Eco-Scale. The Austin-based retailer with six stores in North Texas launched an Eco-Scale rating system last year and now more than 90 percent of the household cleaning products the retailer sells pass its green cleaning test. The retailer requires all household cleaning products to be evaluated and audited by a third-party certifier before they are rated and labeled on shelves. Products are rated red, orange, yellow or green, according to a set of environmental and sourcing standards each product meets, making it easy for shoppers to spot each product’s rating at first glance. Green is the highest rating a product can achieve.
The baseline orange standard, which requires full ingredient listings, means no intentionally added ingredients with significant environmental or safety concerns like chlorine, phosphates or formaldehyde donors, and no synthetic colors or thickeners. Yellow-rated products meet even higher standards, with green-labeled products topping the tier. Red-rated products are not sold at the retailer.
“No one else in the industry has attempted to launch a set of standards as strict as Eco-Scale, so we knew we were asking our suppliers to enter uncharted territory,” said Jim Speirs, global vice president of procurement for Whole Foods Market.
Whole Foods Market now sells more than 275 Eco-Scale-rated products – from liquid laundry detergents and fabric softeners to all-purpose, glass and toilet bowl cleaners. The lineup includes products from Better Life, Ecover, Greenshield, Dr. Bronner’s, biokleen, Earth Friendly, Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, Naturally Its Clean and Method, as well as the retailer’s own Green Mission, Whole Foods Market and 365 Everyday Value brands.
For more information about Whole Foods Market’s Eco-Scale program, go to www.wholefoodsmarket.com/eco-scale.
• Green Good Housekeeping Seal. Started in 2009 by Good Housekeeping magazine and the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, the green seal was developed to help consumers make environmentally responsible choices. The GHRI reviews and verifies a wide range of data relating to the measurable environmental impact of the product, including how much water and energy is used in manufacturing, the safety of the ingredients and product, packaging reduction and the brand’s corporate social responsibility. Products are only certified for two years and then must reapply for certification.
To earn the Green Good Housekeeping Seal, a product must first be evaluated by the scientists and engineers at GHRI and earn the Good Housekeeping Seal, an emblem that reflects a limited warranty: If the product proves defective within two years of purchase, Good Housekeeping will replace the item or refund its purchase price to the customer. Once a product has earned the Good Housekeeping Seal and then meets the environmental performance requirements, it can earn the Green Good Housekeeping Seal.
To date, just a handful of products have earned the green seal from Good Housekeeping. The list and where you can find the products locally include:
--Benjamin Moore Natura household paint, $23.99-$56.99 at Ace Hardware.
--Bissell Little Green, steam-powered stain and spot remove, $89.99 at Target
--Miele S5 and S6 vacuum cleaners, starting at $519 at www.centralvacuumstores.com.
--Physician’s Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Tinted, moisturizer. $11.49 at Kmart. CVS Pharmacy.
--Pampers Cruisers, toddler diapers, $47.19 at Target.
--Tide Cold Water, laundry detergent, $17.97 at Walmart.
--Scott Naturals, bath tissue. $2.97 at Walmart
--TENA Super Plus women’s underwear. $13.99 at Walgreens
--Serenity overnight pads, incontinence protection. $13.99 at Walgreens
• The Environmental Working Group Cleaners Guide. EWG recently released an online guide for more than 2,000 cleaners for safety and disclosure of ingredients at www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners. The guide gives grades of A-F from the scientists at EWG, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental advocacy organization. Among the best were products from Simple Green, Green Shield, Whole Foods Market, 7th Generation and Arm & Hammer EWG recommends avoiding all air fresheners, antibacterial products, fabric sofeners, dryer sheets and drain and oven cleaners. Green Souce DFW has an article about EWG cleaning procucts "Online guide that rates more than 2,000 common cleaners for safety and disclosure of ingredients"
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Teresa McUsic is an Arlington-based writer focused on consumer, environmental and health issues for a number of local and national publications. Her column, The Savvy Consumer, appears in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She can be reached at TMcUsic@aol.com